Just My Backpack and Me, Simple and Free… In Venice

Posted on November 9, 2011

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I love Chicago. The band. I’ve never been to Chicago.

Overheard

Two boys in Interlaken:

1: Dude, what’s your favorite Muppet?
2: I don’t have one.
1: How do you not have a favorite Muppet?
2: I don’t know.
1: Not even a Sesame Street Character?
2: They’re not Muppets.
1: Jim Henson, man, they’re all Jim Henson.

Giggling boy in Milan
1: I HAVE A DREAM… AND SOMETHING WEIRD ALWAYS HAPPENS.

Two ladies sitting on a bench in Venice
“Okay. Ready, one, two, three…” Stand. Glance at me. “DON’T EVER GET OLD.”

Photo from Switzerland train ride I never posted here…

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Since the clocks changed, it gets dark early over here. I can’t take the late morning train, check-in at the average 14:00 check-in time, and have a full day exploring. I’d only have two hours of daylight by the time I drop my bags.

I got to the Milan station for the 9:35 train, paid 10 euros, about 20% of my daily budget, for the “compulsory reservation.” The train broke down while in the Milan train station and at 10:15, we were told to change trains.

The gentleman across from me was very nice. Barely spoke English, and do I speak Italian? No. French? No. A little Italian? No, I know, I suck. But he was nice.

When we changed trains, ours hands got grease on them as the door to the train had been entered by the repair guys. My friend stepped away for a smoke and returned a few minutes later, handing me handy wipe… And a Kit Kat.

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For the following two hours, we held a friendly, if very, very limited conversation.

Him: Venice. Love city.
Me: Aw.

When we arrived, he asked me to join him for pizza – he said pizza and mimed eating. Thank goodness he can’t speak English, because my lamer than lame response was just that. “But… But we can’t talk…”

Twenty minutes after parting, I was tracking down the ATM my hostel directed me to when I heard a psst. I had managed to end up right next to the bar my friend did. He motioned for me to sit down and I glanced at the table. I love company, I would have dinner with any boy or girl, young or old, can’t, I can’t, I just can’t sit and drink a half liter of Beck’s with a man if we can’t talk to each other. What would we do?

I’m sure declining this offer I finally offended him. There’s no love left for me in Love City.

Having to avoid him and thus the main tourist path, after checking in to my hostel I wandered the back alleys and streets for quite awhile. I ended up where people weren’t, where shops weren’t, but where roads suddenly ended at the water and laundry was hanging everywhere. I couldn’t take a bad photo in Venice. It was all perfect.

I spent the evening dazzled by the Piazza San Marco. It was also the only place I could get Internet, which meant train schedule searching, online hostel booking for the following night and many a “Can you hear me now” Skype call was made in a world heritage site.

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This morning, I bought a water bus ticket for 6.50. Line #1, the main and slow route that stops at every stop along the Grand Canal.

Venice is not overhyped.

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My “compulsory reservation” was never checked yesterday. What a bummer. What a waste of ten euros.

Today, on the way to Florence;

“May I see your reservation?”

Okay, this train didn’t even show “subject to (any) reservation” online.

“You may buy one now. It will be eighteen euros.”

Eighteen???

“Yes. Next time, buy in the train station and it is only ten.”

Sigh.

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